The age-old debate around work/life balance continues…
The simple truth is that the way we work has changed dramatically. This may be due to globalisation and the requirement to work across multiple time zones; greater requirement for travel; family impacts; project deadlines… Luckily, rapid advances in technology have assisted us to adapt, stay connected and work outside of the office, and outside of office hours. So why would we still need to sit in the office for our core hours as well?
In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on November 19, 2014 (http://bit.ly/1Mflo9u), Anna Patty reports that work-life balance is getting worse for Australians.
Is this subjective feeling justified? Are workplaces continuing to be inflexible? Anna covers this as well:
Unfortunately so much time can be wasted in our workplaces due to archaic practices that may no longer be contemporary. These include; unnecessary meetings or rigid hours of work resulting commuting in peak flows among others.
In an article in FastCompany on September 29, 2015 (http://bit.ly/1WOiuA3), Adele Peters shares a number of workplaces in Sweden which are adopting more efficient workplace practices and moving to a 6-hour work day. But is this the answer?
One perspective for a better solution is for workplaces is to adopt an outcome focused environment. This would involve setting tasks/outcomes for individuals with clear communication and deliverables. These may be on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly basis. The outcomes can then be measured, as opposed to the inputs.
Efficient people may get their tasks done more quickly than others, or achieve more in the same timeframes. Less efficient people can learn to adopt smarter ways of reaching their deliverables. Rather than enforcing efficient workplace practices through managing and monitoring, employees will seek to optimise their time to produce the appropriate outcomes.
Technology often allows people to work anywhere at any time, which can allow employees to choose whether they wish to sit in an office; vary their office hours; or conduct follow up work outside of normal hours when the kids are asleep for example. The benefit of this is that employees can learn to prioritise their time to achieve balance, whilst employers get a happier, healthier and more productive workforce coupled with clear and measurable outcomes.
If your organisation or department does not currently embrace work place flexibility and you feel you could perform more effectively in your role if this were the case, then perhaps you could consider the following;
- Think about what flexibility might look like specifically for you. Write this down so that your employer fully understands what you are seeking and why
- Check your company policies to uncover if a flexibility policy does in fact exist that you could take advantage of
- Create a business case which outlines how this flexibility will enable your effective performance
- Speak to others who may be working under flexible arrangements to generate supporting information
- Speak to others in your organisation to assess the impact on them and customers
- Have a conversation with those in your organisation who are in the position to help implement this change
As identified by the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (here: http://bit.ly/1MhFpvZ), it is beneficial for business leaders to lead by example when implementing any workplace change strategy.
Large organisations such as NAB, AGL and the like have terrific work place flexibility policies. Many other medium or smaller sized organisations have less well formed policies. When approaching your employer always keep in mind the impact of this change may have on your employer, efficiency, productivity and customer service.